The factory site where the Wright Brothers began manufacturing aircraft in the early 20th century was badly damaged during a fire.
On March 26, 2023, a fire broke out at a complex, causing significant damage to four buildings, including Building 1, which was opened by aviation pioneers Orville and Wilbur Wright in 1910. Local media reports indicate that the majority of Building 1’s roof has collapsed, while Building 2 has lost around half of its roof. Firefighters were still working to extinguish hotspots in Buildings 3 and 4 as of March 27, 2023. The Dayton Daily News reports that the city’s Fire Investigations Unit is currently investigating the cause of the fire.
“Despite over 100 years of intense use, the Wright Company Factory still had most of its original wood roof, windows, and other historic fabric intact,” said Kendall Thompson, the Superintendent of the US National Park Service in a statement. “We are working with our partners to assess the damage to this irreplaceable resource.”
Starting out as a bicycle shop, the Wright Company Factory helped the aviation industry make its first steps over a century ago. Opening in 1910, the factory was the first building in the US to be specifically designed to build aircraft, which was an attempt by the Wright Brothers to scale their product.
The Wright Company Factory was added to the Dayton Aviation Heritage National Historical Park in 2009, with the city’s government owning the site.
The city of Dayton and the National Aviation Heritage Alliance (NAHA) signed an agreement in March 2022 to turn the historic site into a cultural attraction, preserving the history of the Wright Brothers’ factory with a museum.